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TABLE OF CONTENTS
6 ABOuT ThIS BOOk:
ThE POETRY OF SMALL hOuSES claudia hildner 10 ThE ROOTS OF CONTEMPORARY JAPANESE RESIDENTIAL ARChITECTuRE ulf Meyer
CONTEMPORARY JAPANESE DWELLINGS
28 hOuSE WITh GARDENS/YOkOhAMA/TeTsuo Kondo archiTecTs 32 SAkuRA hOuSE/TOkYO/MounT fuji archiTecTs sTudio 36 O hOuSE/kYOTO/hideyuKi naKayaMa archiTecTure 42 TREAD MAChIYA/TOkYO/aTelier Bow-wow
46 Privacy and Publicness
48 hOuSE IN kOMAE/TOkYO/Go haseGawa & associaTes 52 hOuSE IN BuzEN/buzen/suppose desiGn office 56 FINAL WOODEN hOuSE/kuMAMOTO/sou fujiMoTo archiTecTs
60 a culture shaPed by wood
62 SMALL hOuSE h/TAkASAki/KuMiKo inui 66 DANCING LIvING hOuSE/YOkOhAMA/a.l.X. jun' ichi saMpei 70 RING hOuSE/kAruizAwA/Tna TaKei naBeshiMa archiTecTs 74 kONDO hOuSE/TOkYO/MaKiKo TsuKada archiTecTs 78 stePs and layers
80 RECTANGLE OF LIGhT/SAppOrO/jun iGarashi archiTecTs 84 TREE hOuSE/TOkYO/MounT fuji archiTecTs sTudio 88 vILLA kANOuSAN/kiMiTSu/yuusuKe Karasawa archiTecTs
94 sPace without sPace
96 PILOTIS IN A FOREST/TSuMAgOi/Go haseGawa & associaTes 100 hOuSE C/ChibA/hiroshi naKaMura & nap archiTecTs 104 kCh/TOkYO/Kochi archiTecT's sTudio
108 dealing with the existing fabric
110 TSuI NO SuMIkA/uji/KiTe archiTecTure 114 hOuSE OF TROuGh/hOkkAidO/jun iGarashi archiTecTs 118 MOSAIC hOuSE/TOkYO/Tna TaKei naBeshiMa archiTecTs 122 TOWER MAChIYA/TOkYO/aTelier Bow-wow 126 beauty and ePhemerality
128 MORIYAMA hOuSE/nAgOYA/suppose desiGn office 134 MINIMALIST hOuSE/iTOMAn/shinichi oGawa & associaTes 138 ATELIER BISquE DOLL/OSAkA/uid archiTecTs
144 the garden as Part of the architecture
146 hOuSE TOkYO/TOkYO/a.l.X. jun' ichi saMpei 150 hOuSE h/TOkYO/sou fujiMoTo archiTecTs 156 APPENDIx
AbOuT ThiS bOOk: The pOeTrY Of SMALL hOuSeS
and to implement new ideas for space. The building of small houses gives them a chance to become known and to be perceived internationally as well. Observers in other countries admire the rigor with which Japanese architects compose these small houses: in his Final Wooden house. this book approaches them on a more comprehensive level: it seeks to reveal the possibilities offered to contemporary architects by the architectural brief of a residence and to clarify. since young architects have a difficult time establishing themselves in the Japanese market. Although there have been many publications concerned with Japanese minimal houses. where the architectural brief of the residential building offers architects an opportunity to realize unusual concepts.New approaches in architecture are usually reflected first in small buildings. Yuusuke karasawa. for example. The author explains the residential architecture of various eras in terms of outstanding projects built between 1940 and 2000. works with algorithms and based on these strict rules creates spaces he calls “ordered chaos. 7 . the cultural and social principles that influence the architecture of individual residences in Japan. both in an introduction on the history of architecture and in various in-depth texts. The architects whose contemporary houses are presented in the project section are for the most part members of the young avant-garde of the Japanese architecture scene. This is also true in Japan. The keY TO The ArChiTeCTure Of jApAn In this book the phrase “small houses” refers to residential architecture for private clients that is outstanding in terms of space and design. by contrast. For several of them small residences for private clients have been the only opportunity thus far to realize their design ideas. 56). “Experiments” like these often form the basis for other designs and larger architectural tasks and hence for the evolution of architecture in general. The introductory essay by ulf Meyer thus sheds light on developments in Japanese residential architecture since modernism. to experiment with materials and forms.” which he does not simply understand as an image but tries to embody in the material (p. Sou Fujimoto takes up the theme “forest.” which seem natural in a bizarre way (p. 88). This subtle survey brings readers closer to contemporary projects and gives them an opportunity to draw parallels between the present and the past and to get to know various facets of one architectural task.
second. The reason for this difference is that in Japan a house is supposed to satisfy primarily the needs of a moment and hence of a certain period of a lifetime.The CiTY Of SMALL hOuSeS Compared to their European colleagues. that is where life plays out. curated by koh kitayama for the Japan Foundation. This different understanding of building was also the theme of Japan’s national contribution to the venice Biennale of Architecture in 2010. a Japanese home lasts on average only twenty-five years. satellite photographs of that city of millions were shown in rapid sequence. They want special houses that stand out from the brown and green masses. In the exhibition Tokyo Metabolizing. When the living situation changes. revealing transformation as a fundamental feature of Tokyo. In contrast to Europe. not the house. 8 . there are hardly any design guidelines. where residential buildings can as a rule be used unproblematically by several generations. which can simply be adapted to the changing living conditions of their owners and hence can be seen as the liveliest and most spontaneous elements in the urban fabric. The lot. it is demolished and replaced with no great qualms. Japanese architects have a somewhat easier time realizing their visions as residential buildings. But it is neither the public buildings nor the large apartment blocks that are primarily responsible for this rapid change: it is the small houses. Japanese clients are more open to unconventional and daring ideas also in part because they are not expecting a home for eternity. an adaptation of living habits. Japanese clients who hire an architect know exactly what they are getting into. First. where spaces are created. hence they are prepared to accept that the architecture will not function exclusively as a subordinate shell but will at times even demand a symbiosis. is considered the real value. with the individual lots constantly changing.
be regarded critically as well. hence cold and heat are allowed to enter the room and are not “battled” in advance but rather “balanced” subsequently. The body and not the space is what is supposed to be brought to a certain temperature – when possible by adding or removing clothing or by tabletop heating elements. claudia hildner deSign independenCe 9 . It is interpreted not so much as a function of the building as it is a function of the inhabitants. but anyone who looks at the effective use of energy in Japanese homes cannot demonize it entirely. houses are often heated and cooled only locally and as needed. This different way of thinking about sustainability in Japan can.Many of the projects presented in this book were possible only because sustainability is defined differently in Japan than it is in many European countries. The architect thus seems less like a creative maker of space than like a mediator between the building authority and the energy planner. and legal circumstances are very different. for example – means more design freedom for architects. Although the historical. social. presume shorter life cycles. The greater tolerance of their clients – with regard to sacrifices of comfort. but perhaps it could do with a little more poetry. issues of ecology or building codes become the yardstick for designing a residence. The Japanese approach to architecture thus seems very free. and translate their visions into architecture more or less unaltered. the small houses of Japan can offer many sources of inspiration for the Western world. of course. whereas in many European countries one observes almost the opposite phenomenon: rather than making architecture the focus. They can risk more with their designs. The projects presented in this book whet the appetite for more residential architecture. In the West that cannot be conceived without energy efficiency and building codes.
The rOOTS Of COnTeMpOrArY jApAneSe reSidenTiAL ArChiTeCTure Futurist dwelling capsules: the karuizawa vacation home was completed by kisho kurokawa in 1974. 10 .
Then it depicts the evolution of Japanese residential architecture from the mid-twentieth century to the present using chronological case studies. Japanese houses have a short useful life. This essay is thus dedicated first to the conditions on which residential architecture in Japan is based. Moreover.25 > 1. In the process it becomes clear that residential architecture in Japan did not develop in a vacuum but rather is based on a long tradition of small houses that only exist in this form in the Land of the Rising Sun. But the differentness of Japanese residences is also based on building codes intended primarily to regulate the blocking of light in constricted Japanese metropolises. 11 . The prinCipLeS Of jApAneSe reSidenTiAL ArChiTeCTure In Japan most private lots are extremely small. c… area within which the building can be built (if no other rules apply). because adapting to new living circumstances is not usually achieved by converting homes but rather by tearing them down and rebuilding them. since the existing space has to be used as efficiently as possible. Anyone observing their development will thus first gain insights into how the Japanese live and second derive an idea of the origins of contemporary Japanese residential architecture. focusing on social and urban planning factors. several fascinating characteristic architectural features have survived there that reflect the country’s traditions and social relations. basing permissible building heights on the width of the streets.Buildings with innovative ideas for space and an unusual aesthetic have repeatedly caused the eyes of Western architects to turn to Japan. limited. Social and economic changes and the transformation of design preferences can therefore be read from the resulting buildings. and always more expensive than the buildings that stand on them.or two-story buildings can be built (as measured from the edge of the property) with no sloping in accordance with regulations on the north side. This has repeatedly led to unique architectural solutions. Particularly in residential architecture. They are also intended to protect buildings from fire < 1 1. b… area within which one.25 N restrictions on heights in the Japanese building code: a… area within which limits apply depending on the width of the street.
The infLuenCe Of urbAn pLAnning deveLOpMenTS Regulations. and individual traffic cannot View to the south from Tokyo’s northern city limit: a tapestry of single-family homes with isolated apartment blocks. Because Japanese metropolises are characterized by modern high-capacity train networks. Despite high population density – the factor that influences Japan’s building culture more than any other – there is still an astonishingly high number of single-family homes in the cities. which seem to be cut off diagonally in order to maximize building heights while ensuring that neighboring houses receive as much natural light as possible. hence the building codes also determine not only the form of houses but above all urban planning: the effects can be seen.and ensure that they resist earthquakes as long as possible. but because the walls and windows of Japanese houses are poorly sealed and insulated. it can become unpleasantly hot inside during the summer and bitingly cold in winter. building traditions. but the most important factor is urban planning itself: the largest Japanese cities have grown together into a single meta-megacity in recent decades. so that at least from the government perspective there is no need to heighten regulations for the use of energy in homes. Because of the way many Japanese heat and cool – they regulate the temperature of the body rather than that of the entire room – the effective energy use of houses is nevertheless relatively low. and economic factors influence the look of Japanese houses. Traditionally. in the “gullies” between houses that result from the setback requirements and in the top floors of buildings. The climate is comparatively mild throughout the year in much of Japan. Because this means that extensive insulation is unnecessary. . the architects have a design freedom that their Western colleagues can only envy. for example. the large middle class in Japanese society has placed great value on owning private land and real estate – however small it may be. 12 change in scales: the high-rises of urban centers tower out of the agglomeration.
it makes little sense for architects to relate their work to a neighboring building.” The architect cannot but “add to the restless image of the city. 13 . A situation that might seem at first glance to run counter to the development of an architectural culture in fact has deep cultural roots in Japan.” (Bognar Botond 1990. They do not build for eternity: on average. in Japan it is the omnipresent city. p. never its material. Every building stands alone. the destructive tendencies of suburbanization familiar from the united States and other Western countries have done much less damage here. A culturally rich. wars. house in a Tokyo suburb ready for demolition. residential buildings are demolished and rebuilt after just twenty-five years. Originally. densely woven tapestry of settlements has formed. could be preserved for centuries. almost continuous. and not least the explosive growth of cities has left little room for sentimentality in the design of Japanese cities. The lack of tradition has a long tradition where the physical constitution of buildings is concerned.compete with public transportation despite numerous highways. Experience with recurring natural catastrophes. houses in Japan were created from ephemeral materials and were repeatedly demolished and replaced – only a building’s form. The fragmentary essence of Japanese metropolises has often been described as a “patchwork. 14) Whereas in most countries the relationship to the surrounding landscape is marked by single-family homes. a manmade landscape that can be called an urbanscape. Because of the rapid sequence of building and demolition that is typical in Japan. The visual chaos of these constantly changing metropolises usually offers few points of reference for housing. and among other things it serves as the foundation for innovative Japanese residential architecture. Many architects thus choose a defensive strategy and cut the building off from the context of the city.” because of its – as Botond Bognar has put it – “radical heterogeneity. but on the other hand it frees architecture of the obligation to adapt to or even subordinate itself to its urban context. The lack of context is the only context in which residential buildings are designed. the urban juxtaposition sometimes seems confused and arbitrary to Western eyes.
The proportions and dimensions of the room were based on the module of a tatami (which today measures about 80 by 182 centimeters but varies slightly from region to region and even then has been adjusted repeatedly over time) and the construction grid of the wood frame. Changes in social or economic circumstances can be manifested architecturally and urbanistically in Japanese metropolises within a quarter century. modular system of rooms and corridors with a straw or tile roof above and a wooden platform below. and their floor plans were based on a planar. and shoji (sliding panels made of rice ¯ paper). Japanese cities are characterized by transformation. That does not mean that urban planning considerations are fundamentally bracketed out in Japan. The floor plans of Japanese houses have not traditionally been determined by function but are rather flexible in use. the majority of Japanese residential buildings were characterized by a traditional modular wood-frame construction that obtained its genuinely Japanese form from fusuma (sliding doors). European view of urban planning. in which one building relates to the next. whereas in cities like Paris it is barely possible to detect a change in the cityscape over that period. 14 View into one of the teahouses of the Villa katsura: the proportions of tatami mats and sliding elements characterize the traditional architecture of Japan. and thanks to their sliding walls they can easily be jApAneSe ArChiTeCTure unTiL The SeCOnd wOrLd wAr The interpenetration of housing and the experience of nature: the Villa katsura in kyoto. Japan’s cities celebrate chaos. . which is filled in with both permanent and moving. In contrast to the Western. until the twentieth century. Whereas European cities are characterized by their permanence. The Japanese city counters the lack of monumentality and permanence with its omnipresence as its strength. and the body of a city emerges only within a context. and constant renewal. nonbearing walls. houses in Japan were designed for large families. by the dynamic.Anyone who studies Japanese urban planning will recognize the changing of individual elements as an essential quality of these metropolises. energy. but rather that such metropolises often require different solutions than a Western city does. tatami (straw mats).
At the same time. even large cities like To¯ kyo consisted largely of low-rise. traditional Japanese architecture was receiving more attention in the West: it began with Franz Adolf Wilhelm Baltzer’s Das japanische Wohnhaus of 1903 and reached a climax with the texts Bruno Taut wrote between 1933 and 1936. so there were neither beds nor chairs nor tall tables. After returning to Japan. Futons were rolled up and stored in closets during the day. “Clean” (bath) and “dirty” (toilet) were separated spatially. so that reinforced concrete was increasingly used in the years that followed. traditional wooden houses. It is thus not surprising that his Sommerfeld house in Berlin of 1921 has similarities with the Shosoin wood house in Nara from the eighth century. as is also demonstrated by the example of the house that kunio Maekawa built for himself. Even the brick buildings of the Ginza District that had been built in the Western style proved not to be sufficiently earthquake-safe. Walter Gropius’s sommerfeld house in berlin (right) reveals echoes of the shosoin wooden house in nara. he built a residence and studio in Tokyo in 1933 that reflects the principles of Bauhaus modernism. ¯ ¯ 15 . Walter Gropius also recognized that traditional Japanese architecture offered solutions to the architectural issues of his day. Iwao Yamawaki (1898–1987) was one of four Japanese students at the Bauhaus in Dessau. The fires after the earthquake thus caused worse damage than the vibration of the earth itself: the catastrophe made painfully clear the limitations of wood construction for the modern Japanese metropolis. until the devastating kanto earthquake of 1923. the Japanese were fascinated by the Modern Movement and tried to keep up with its Western advocates. ¯ ¯ While the West was discovering traditional Japanese architecture. The intercontinental exchange of ideas was fruitful for the evolution of a modern Japanese residential architecture. in which the villa katsura in kyoto in particular was assessed as an outstanding example of Japanese architecture.combined into larger units. and the only architect among them.
The exposed-concrete building was shaped like a u whose ends are joined by a straight line. 1976 In 1976 Ito built this house for his older sister. which took place before Ito’s eyes in 1997. ¯ Plan of ground floor 22 . was regarded by the family as a liberation from the task of mourning. Over the course of designing it.” the beginning of the “new wave” in the 1980s introduced a radical reversal in thinking: architects abandoned the attempt to view the city as something to be designed and instead pursued an introverted architecture that related to the city in a defensive way and sought hermetic separation. eating. White walls and a white floor formed a universal space for playing. The long corridor led to the children’s rooms and the mother’s bedroom. Light and shadow from a skylight covered these surfaces like a canvas. This period was the heyday of the exposed-concrete architecture of strict primary geometry of the sort that Tadao Ando made world famous.case sTudy 4. whose husband had recently died of cancer. She wanted a house in which their two daughters would have “more direct contact to earth and sky”. functional considerations took a backseat to symbolic ones. WhiTe u. Toyo iTo. and meditating. Whereas in the 1970s houses were often still designed like a heterogeneous “internalized city. The demolition of the house. Thus it resulted in both a protected courtyard and an infinite space.
Tadao ando. It is a kind of row house that was particularly common in the Edo period (1603–1867) and housed the majority of the city’s population. Ando’s slender exposed-concrete building stands on a lot 14 meters deep but ¯ just 3. Plans of ground floor and second floor. overpowering. The turn away from the hostile. 1976 Tadao Ando took a traditional building type as ¯ his point of reference for his design of the Sumiyoshi Nagaya: the nagaya. six-meter-tall street facade of exposed concrete serves as the entrance. section 23 . constantly transforming city resulted in many inward-turned spaces. Only after passing through it is it clear that the house is organized around an open courtyard that extends the full width of the lot. suMiyoshi naGaya. Residents have to pass through this courtyard to reach the back spaces from the front ones. Ando’s architecture was both antiurban and ¯ antihedonistic.5 meters wide. A small incision in the otherwise completely closed-off.¯ case sTudy 5. The design has entered the history books as a symbol of the radically introverted residential architecture in Japan of this period.
a cut-open house. while the two side aisles duck away modestly. but the floor plan reveals that it houses two completely different uses. or a live-in sculpture with a display window? O house in kyoto surprises viewers with its eccentric form: a tall volume twists defiantly into the sky. which leads them into the side wings with the live-in kitchen and bathroom or into the outdoor area. The occupants enter the house via the central volume. a full-height glass facade is all that separates the interior from the exterior. the central nave is perceived as the most important part of the house. When necessary. They are in turn surrounded by a hip-height concrete wall that can be read as an exterior wall or as a garden wall. The architect hideyuki Nakayama arranged living spaces and outdoor areas around the central volume on the ground floor.o house kYOTO hideYuki nAkAYAMA ARChITECTuRE 2009 LIvE-IN CAThEDRAL Is it a church. a curtain can keep curious passersby from looking in. From the outside. On the front side. They reach the upper floor via the kitchen. whereas on the upper floor it accommodates the bedrooms for the family of four. According to 37 . from which an S-shaped spiral staircase leads back into the central nave. On the ground floor it serves primarily to provide access.
passersby can follow parts of the family’s life. complete with curtain. by contrast. second.1 2 3 4 Nakayama. this path makes the occupants’ climb into the bedrooms not simply a walk into another space. the perception of the house changes. The structure of O house contains allusions to the history of architecture: first. Ground floor plan scale 1:250 39 . which has already been demolished. both for its viewers and for its users. the composition of tall middle house and low side buildings admits of purely superficial associations with a typical two-story residence of the Edo period (1603–1867). As long as the latter is open. Life inside the house and its external appearance do not correspond and can scarcely be interpreted as a unity. First floor plan 4. there is a direct connection between outside and inside: it transforms the quirky building into a kind of stage. the changing exterior space becomes part of their home. cross section 2. he says. however. 1 . the curving main house recalls somewhat White u by Toyo Ito (see p. experiencing a presentation of “living in the city”. Thanks to the glass facade. longitudinal section 3. For the residents. rather like coming home after a long day. It is. 22). When the curtain is closed.
and interior are all made of wood. he pushed the multifunctionality of wood to its limits by assigning nearly all the tasks to a single element: thirty-five-centimeterthick square cedar beams. Building an all-wood house appealed to the Tokyo architect for several reasons.20 by 4. growing material simply from its growth rings. facade. thus calls the building. The viewer notices in passing that this is a living. Its architect. the material dominated Japanese architecture for centuries and had a great influence on the evolution of the country’s architecture. Sou Fujimoto. which predestined it to shape the “primitive” architecture Fujimoto sought. which in one building can fulfill every conceivable function from dressing by way of construction and insulation to interior finishing. Finally. there was its naturalness. Second. First.final wooden house SOu fujiMOTO ARChITECTS kuMAMOTO 2008 INNOvATIvELY PRIMITIvE In this experimental house in kumamoto in southern Japan. the architect was fascinated by the diversity of the material. Staggering the arrangement of the solid wood beams results in steps whose heights are multiples of the basic unit of thirty-five centimeters 57 . located in the garden of a private client on a lot measuring 4. Final Wooden house.20 meters. With his Final Wooden house. the constructions.
With his Final Wooden house. this is a house without furniture. In his book Primitive future. The walls and levels of Final Wooden house cannot be easily read. the architect created a house that is also an experiment with space: a small universe that offers people spaces and areas to use but not instructions for their use. employing them in such a way that the result makes a general statement about building. three make it possible to work standing up. p. 59 . ambiguities blur the distinction between the space produced by mass and the mass produced by space” 1 . section scale 1:100 1 2 and are thus harmonized with human dimensions. there was an unfathomable potential concealed in the unequivocally undiffer- entiated state […] when the stacked timbers and interstitial spaces become equivalent. This quotation reflects what the architect means by “primitive”: not an imitation of earlier building techniques but rather an attempt to understand space and architecture in a very primal sense. Tokyo. 2008. the space and the material that delimits space closely dovetail as positive and negative forms. Sou Fujimoto writes of this project: “Before matter and space separated. which only became common in the living areas of Japanese homes from the time of the Meiji Restoration (from 1868 onward) and the associated adoption of Western styles of housing and living. 119. One element is suitable for seating furniture. Top view 2. 1… FuJiMoTo. to question the means available to architecture. in fact. sou: Primitive Future. two correspond to the height of a desk. In essence.1 .
which makes the wall surfaces above it seem light as a feather. One of the patios extends the full 75 . and two patios were fastened or suspended. and the husband’s father. their one-year-old child. a living room closed off on three sides. so that the floors almost seem to float. the outer walls. she placed a live-in kitchen.MAkikO TSukAdA ARChITECTS TOkYO 2008 kondo house hANGING GARDENS how can light be brought into a house that is constricted on three sides by neighboring buildings and faces a loud street on its fourth side? The Tokyo-based architect Makiko Tsukada solved that problem by largely closing off kondo house from its surroundings. from which the residential floors. The architect used a combination of two pairs of steel frames. and the grandfather’s living quarters. letting light flow into the house from above via patios and staggered levels. On the ground floor of the house Tsukada designed for a husband-and-wife team of graphic designers. This impression is reinforced by a ribbon window just above the floor. This made it possible to dispense with supports in the interior.
Makiko Tsukada tries to design her houses in such a way that the occupants can use them in several ways: for example. slightly narrower patio. Arranged on three staggered levels are the family’s bedrooms. Two staircases lead from the kitchen to the upper floor. so that the upper story is articulated by two glass boxes as well as the shifts in level.height of the building and serves as a small interior garden between the grandfather’s rooms and the clients’ living area. longitudinal section scale 1:250 3 77 . It is in keeping with Tsukada’s concept that the facade has dark plaster and gives few hints of its spectacular interior. Ground floor plan 2. The open living space should not be understood as an obligation either: the rooms can be separated by shoji – the traditional sliding doors covered with rice paper – which provides a little private sphere. Shielding against unwanted influence seems to be more important to the family than exposing to the outside the exciting world in which they dwell. Between the work and play areas is a second. and a play space for the child. 2 1 1 . First floor plan 3. the two staircases permit a playful “circular tour” through the house. a workspace.
4/2008. The floor AnD The ceIlIng) Are The DoMInAnT frAMIng DevIces. p. p. Victoria. 3… Casa Brutus. A buIlDIng Is PrIMArIly frAMeD by MeAns of WAlls AnD WInDoWs. Peter and hyaTT. 50 modern classics. special issue “Traditional Japanese architecture and design” (part 1). p. 1 kenGo kuMa hyaTT. kiyoshi: The Japanese House Then and Now. Jennifer: Designing with Glass: Great Glass Buildings. 41. 71. 2004.In The WesTern ArchITecTurAl TrADITIon. Tokyo. Mulgrave. 1998. In The TrADITIonAl JAPAnese ArchITecTure. horIzonTAl PlAnes (ThAT Is. 2… hirai. 18. 78 1… . […] on The oTher hAnD.
it is. Whereas craftspeople and farmers could only design their homes in simple ways in any case. the heights of the floors indicated where those of different military ranks were supposed to sit in relation to one another. supplemented by mobile tatami mats on which to sit and lie down more comfortably. and the living rooms and bedrooms in many houses still have tatami mats on which low tables sit during the day and futons are rolled out at night to sleep. For example. along with the ceilings and wooden supports. other parts of the building indicated the formality of the room and the corresponding level of etiquette. Previously.sTePs and layers Flooring is first found in Japan in antiquity. however. many architects dispense with these eloquent elements from the past or reinterpret them in favor of a stronger concept of space (see. in essence. the genkan. more accurately. 79 . for example. but even then only one or at most two rooms of a house would be furnished according to Western ideas – or. it came in the form of slightly raised plank floors in the living room that cause the living area to stand out as a result. and wood of different types and manner of installation. 3 These means of formal expression were available to the nobility and the warrior class – the lower classes were not permitted to use them. where to use slippers instead. in order to maintain the traditional hierarchy of the estates the merchants who grew wealthy in the eighteenth century were forbidden to use the insignias of the upper classes. 84]). floors of this kind continued to be used for “dirty” areas of the house. the floor is very important spatially. in essence. 2 The nature and height of the floor not only revealed the function of the room within the house but also suggested how formal the given area was and indicated the rank of those sitting on it. and also when the latter should be removed again. by means of the borders of tatami mats. in many Japanese homes. the Japanese lived almost exclusively on rammed earth. intended to offer signals about how to interact with the space. and so (informal). has been retained in many cases. as kengo kuma explains. in architecturally ambitious homes today. The elevated areas often feature imitation parquet rather than real wood. which deprived the floor of its universal tasks in the living areas. and shows by means of steps and differences in floor covering where shoes are permitted. there were three different levels of formality: shin (very formal). Western influences on Japanese housing only began to increase with the Meiji restoration from 1868 onward. the design of walls and ceilings. in addition to functioning as an indicator of social status and as all-purpose furniture. gyo (formal). 74] or Tree house by Mount Fuji architects [p. because there were only light sliding doors and few solid interior walls. beginning around ad 1200. distinct from the height of the surrounding floors. the traditional functions of the floor still play an important role. kondo house by Makiko Tsukada [p. was the introduction of furniture for sitting and reclining. there were more and more residential buildings in which tatami mats were installed permanently. by the notions the Japanese had of how people lived in the West. in the traditional Japanese house it was one of the few immovable elements. however. This was particularly clear in medieval Japan: in the reception rooms of residences of warriors. this floor served as universal furniture. or ground-level entrance where street shoes are removed. no longer distinguished by an earthen floor but usually has an easily cleaned plastic or stone floor covering. 94). but the living spaces of wealthier families were increasingly dominated by plank floors. This was ¯ ¯ conveyed. in prestigious residences. however. for example. The floor in a Japanese home thus still conveys information about how certain areas are used. one crucial change. the floor and ceiling shaped the space through which daily life flowed (see also p.
this time in the form of a tower. they begin the climb to the upper floors. The individual rooms are articulated around the stairwell like stations on the edge of the path. On the second level the architects even added a kind of bench.ATeLier bOw-wOw TOkYO tower machiya vERTICAL TEA GARDEN 2010 The plot was the size of a parking space. The building makes no secret of the steel construction that supports it: crossovers and rough 123 . Both clients are well versed in the Japanese tea ceremony. or in this case a tearoom. 42). but the clients nevertheless wanted to build their dream house there. via a white filigreed steel stairwell. As in a typical Japanese tea garden. and would like someday to instruct students in this room. which stands out clearly against the parquet floor. the end point and climax of the path is a teahouse.or two-story machiya and snakes like a garden path through the four slightly staggered floors. The stairwell replaces the corridor of the traditionally one. p. Atelier Bow-Wow met this challenge in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district with another machiya (see also Tread Machiya. visitors enter Tower Machiya on the southeast side and via a narrow entry area enter directly into the elevated live-in kitchen.
which were originally so horizontal. and tatami mats. longitudinal section 6. however. the upper stories are dominated by the steel construction and narrow balconies.OG first floor 2. second floor plan 4. Third floor plan/attic 5. OG / Dachgeschoss third floor 1 2 3 4 5 6 cladding remain visible.Längsschnitt cross section . Ground floor plan 2. there are rather multistory point-block residential buildings. cross section scale 1:250 125 . longitudinal section . resulting in a contemporary and yet thoroughly Japanese house. Tower Machiya is an example of the extreme verticality that now dominates Japan’s urban structures. scale 1:250 That is also reflected in the exterior view of Tower Machiya: the entrance area is characterized by traditional sliding doors of thin wooden slats.Querschnitt 1 . Atelier Bow-Wow demonstrates that a vertically arranged house need not contradict the original living style of the Japanese city but can instead build on it.EG ground floor 1. Rather than low buildings that develop into the depths of the plot. OG second floor 3. The architects combined this open and clear structure with modern glass elements. traditional Japanese sliding doors. First floor plan 3. With this design.
. Tokyo. Tokyo. p. p. h. 29.: Haiku. 3… ibid. 900. 1986. r. 2… Japan Illustrated Encyclopedia: Keys to the Japanese Heart and Soul.). vol. 1 見わたせば 花も紅葉もなかりけり 浦の苫屋の秋の夕暮 1 藤原定家 FuJiWara sadaie (1162–1241) 1… blyTh. sPrIng blossoMs AnD AuTuMn leAves Are As noThIng coMPAreD To Those grAss-ThATcheD huTs In The AuTuMn TWIlIghT. 2008 (19th ed. 126 . summer-autumn.lookIng over The bAy. p. 3. 31.
two other aesthetic principles gained in importance: wabi and sabi. p. ages in a clearly visible way. in contemporary architecture. since the floor plans can be changed in accordance with current needs. about the fact such beauty cannot be captured: perfection is not a state that endures. the principles of wabi and sabi were transferred to architecture: on the one hand. although mono no aware and sabi had no direct influence on architecture. they do have a mutual relationship to it: the living material of wood. empathetic appreciation of the ephemeral beauty manifest in nature and human life” 2 . space itself be¯ comes ephemeral. 122). This motif first occurs in writings of the heian period – around ad 1000 – and plays an important role in the literature of later centuries as well. for example – so that the contrast will reinforce the intended image of wabi or sabi. moreover. a very formal type of building that evolved from the medieval residences of warriors. the shoji are sometimes replaced by curtains. in the case of shoji. 127 . as in the simple beauty of the construction of Tower Machiya by atelier bowWow (p. mankai – that is. and sensitive materials with short life spans. on the one hand. in the teahouses. the day on which the blossoms have opened completely and remain visible only for a brief time – is feverishly anticipated. To understand mono no aware. it is important to understand mujo – the buddhist doctrine of ¯ ephemerality. in the case of cherry blossoms in particular. The Japanese call the aesthetic principle behind this mono no aware: “a deep. This traditional aesthetic is reflected in contemporary architecture as well. on the other hand. they influenced the architecture of shoin. it is about perfect beauty.beauTy and ePheMeraliTy That the Japanese cultivate a special relationship to fleeting moments is reflected in the attention they pay to seasonal events such as the blooming and fading of various sorts of flowers or to the fall colors of leaves. in addition. the latter is closely associated with the poet basho ¯ (1644–94) and is found – even beyond poetry – where the ephemerality and imperfection of life are expressed in the form of a patina or slight defects. historical roof constructions of rice straw or bark must be replaced regularly. The approach to light and relationships to the garden or the changing seasons often reflects architects’ desire to provide a place in architecture for the ephemeral or to think of the building not just spatially but also temporally. 74). both principles are sometimes juxtaposed with perfect beauty – of cherry blossoms. since the often relatively small houses can quickly react to new requirements (see. Whereas the former goes back to the tea master sen no rikyo (1522–91) and primarily praises the austere ¯ beauty of the simple life relieved of worldly cares. according to which “everything that is born must die and […] nothing remains unchanged”3. 14). which is now considered the model of traditional Japanese residential architecture (the most famous example is the Villa katsura in kyoto. which dominated Japanese architecture into the twentieth century. but also. This flexible subdivision of space makes sense even today. kondo house by Makiko Tsukada. such as tatami and shoji (sliding doors of rice paper) characterize many houses even today. it is reasonable to assume that mono no aware evolved in part based on engagement with the doctrine of mujo. see p. ¯ With the refinement of the tea ceremony and developments in poetry in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. they gave impetus to the development of a more informal type of house: the sukiya. because buddhism began influencing Japanese culture as early as ad 700. for example.
each of which serves a specific use. via the carport one arrives at the entry to the house. The house almost completely fills the lot – in lieu of a garden. up to this point the steps lead upward in a spiral. and with steps that either connect two levels or represent their own “spatial unit”. but now one can choose whether to continue climbing upward or enter the nursery. There awaits one of the “aimless” staircases. The Tokyobased architect worked with separate levels. Additional steps lead to the living room and finally the bedroom. again with two options to choose from: the path to the roof terraces or that to the bathroom. placed over an opening in the ceiling. From the parents’ bedroom one can continue up.SOu fujiMOTO ARChITECTS house h TOkYO 2009 FROM BRANCh TO BRANCh Sou Fujimoto modeled his design for house h in Tokyo on the structure of a young tree. From there a wooden staircase provides access to the kitchen. the building is like a shoot that is constantly branching out as it spreads upward. providing a place for their small daughter to play. Fujimoto created interesting spatial transitions that make the interior of the building seem like a unity. from which a massive staircase leads into the living space. The individual rooms are connected to one another via large-format openings in walls and ceil151 .
C. The large windows. so that the family members remain in contact across several floors or can at least sense the presence of the others. Ground floor plan scale 1:250 1 Level 3 + Dach 2 3 4 ings. cross section 2. Third floor plan 3. but its use as a residence and its location in a densely populated Tokyo neighborhood argued rather for a closed solution. Level 1 5 153 . whose panes are fixed in the jambs at a slight angle. The numerous connections make the interior seem almost continuous. views inward and outward connect the private and the public areas. so that the exterior space and street scenes can flow into the family’s everyday life. This vertically conceived landscape would probably Level 2-3 function best without any exterior walls.1 . First floor plan 5. An exposed concrete shell with large openings is wrapped around the living areas and also surrounds the roof terraces and the carport. second floor plan 4. Escher. Whereas the interior with its many steps somewhat recalls a narrow and winding ruin or a work by the Level 1-2 artist M. frame the exterior space. the house presents itself to the outside as ordered and restrained.